When it comes to exercises that build muscles and maintain excellent cardiovascular health, stair running is up there. It’s a high-intensity aerobic workout; you’ll notice your heart beating much faster compared to simply running. Running while climbing stairs can boost power, speed, and QUADS! You don’t need any special equipment—just a great set of stairs to get you to where you need to be. Nippert Stadium is a great example of a local, outdoor space where you can get stepping.
A group called CHAARG at the University of Cincinnati welcomes women who are interested in embracing a holistic, healthy lifestyle. CHAARG stands for Changing Health, Attitudes, and Actions to Recreate Girls. They’re passionate about changing the lives of college-aged women. The gang utilizes Nippert often for their workouts.
But CHAARG is not just a health and fitness organization—they’re a community of women inspiring each other to become the best versions of themselves. This does involve climbing some steps from time to time, though. Each week they introduce a new workout, one including the stairs, to promote team-building and encourage motivational support and camaraderie.
“As a community, we encourage and empower one another to be open and kind to help each other throughout their fitness journeys," says Taylor Stills—an event coordinator and member of the University of Cincinnati CHAARG.
I've listed some of the best tips and tricks to stair climbing—especially at Nippert Stadium, where you’ll find even more motivation running alongside the members of UC CHAARG.
- Breathe and warm up for 10-15 minutes. If you're new to stairs, start off by walking before adding in a jog, followed by a running pace. Keep your body weight centered and core engaged. “The one thing that often can cause injury or burnout is trying to do too much, too soon. Try to focus on steady incremental progress," says OrthoCincy's Dr. David Lustenberger.
- Stay nimble and agile. To be light on your feet, I tell my clients to imagine running on clouds.
- It’s natural to want to look down, but it’s important to keep your head and eyes up, focusing on what’s ahead of you. Think about climbing each step and allowing the entire bottom of your foot to land on the step. But if you’re looking for a real calf-burner, try landing lightly on the ball of your foot in the climb.
- Use the return to the bottom of the stairs as your “rest.” You’ll want to stay light on your feet as you descend the steps, as it puts more strain on your knees and ankles compared to ascending them.
- Find your own rhythm and pace. When you find your groove, you can incorporate other exercises into the stair climbing. For example, when you reach the top or bottom of a climb, consider adding an additional challenge by performing one or a combination of the following:
- 10 burpees
- 10 push-ups
- 10 squats
- 10 tricep dips
- 10 sit-ups
Want to learn more about joining UC CHAARG, or get some info about starting a chapter at your school? You can visit their site here.